In keeping with this new My Cracked Syntax blog of mine, here is a collected writing that I thought just decent enough to post for posterity. It was originally done on 9/24/2006 for a friends English project wherein two individual accounts of the same day/time span were to be recorded and observations compared;
My name is Mike O’Toole. On Thanksgiving Day, 2005, there was a lot on my mind… Which is similar to most days. However, holidays have a way of provoking a refreshed perspective and a multitude of previously unconfronted emotions in you. At the time, I was wrestling with the juxtaposition between relishing in the commercial aspects of the holiday, and the true, sentimental aspects. For one thing, I love me some turkey. The massive consumption of the traditional Thanksgiving feast is so socially acceptable that I venture to say, not even the likes of Paris Hilton thinks twice in pigging out on “Turkey Day.” However, something was hindering my appetite. And rest assured, that certain something had nothing to do with the commercially promoted elements of the holiday. Indeed, the feelings that plagued me were of the sentimental variety. For one thing, you have the standard family gathering which coincides with dinner. Now, depending on what type of relationship you generally have with your family, it can be a good thing, or a not so good thing. For me, it’s a fairly mixed bag, save a few loose cannons likely to go off from time to time. I do love my folks, and while I was looking forward to seeing everyone, there was that slight bit of apprehension I assume a lot of people feel, over the idea of having to listen to that certain relative drone on and on about… What else but the turkey? There is one theme that rings true for most everyone fortunate enough to gather before a Thanksgiving dinner, and that is “togetherness.”
However, this year also meant a certain separation, being the last year that my high school graduating class would be together as one. Yes, it was senior year, which meant embracing class activities, while maintaining an individual plan, mainly that of figuring out where you’d be next year. Amidst that pressure, comes the previously mentioned post grad activities. One particular annual event that surrounds the Thanksgiving holiday, as well as a sense of school pride, is that of the traditional Thanksgiving senior football game. Seeing as it would be our class involved in the game this year, as seniors, it was particularly exciting. The rivalry between Needham and Wellesley is one of the most storied in high school football, I believe. Needless to say, in a town and school that holds their high school football team so sacred, this game was a big deal. I had attended several games in the past, however, with the game taking place in Wellesley that year, and my head being somewhere else, in the midst of deciding what my future plans would be, I neglected to attend this one. The sentimental nature of this particular event did , however, affect me to a certain extent. Honestly, I’m not the biggest football fan, particularly high school football. My attachment to the idea of the game had nearly nothing to do with football itself; more over, it was the first of the last significantly noted high school events of our class of 2005 . I’m not quite sure why I dowelled on the finality of all this high school stuff so much. In hindsight, it had a lot to do with the fear of change, and regrets of not previously participating in other class activities. My limited school interaction came about thanks to a clinical depression that assisted in my earning an infamous badge of honor , in the form of one of the most spotty attendance records in the state.
Around the time of the Thanksgiving game, I was just starting to really get over these problems, and my personality was shining through like that first break of day. It was for these reasons that I felt a certain sense of urgency in making up for lost time with my peers. There was a pressure to establish, or reestablish my social identity within a designated span of time. For any teenager in this chapter, its tough attempting to fit in, while holding claim to a unique identity with genuine integrity. For myself, it was tough grappling with the concept that, due to my previous attendance issues, I wouldn’t be able to participate in any major senior class activities. I felt the need to overcompensate, and extend myself to certain people I had once neglected, in order to socially prove myself. Illustrating to folks that I was no longer a lost cause, and truly a good apple, was incredibly important as a result of my prior follies and subsequent regrets. This philosophy still breaths pure, to this day, as I soak up the diverse social and academic setting here, at MassBay. To some, community college might seem like a step below them. For me, its a rung up, inviting me to seize the success and camaraderie I missed, due to previous twists of fate, and mistakes during high school.
That Thanksgiving Day, our high school football game came and went. So did senior year. However, I made it to my aunts South Boston home, for that turkey I craved just as much as having the opportunity to catch up with my 2005 classmates and act as the social creature I so deeply am. Fortunately, I did get to feel the catharsis that comes from good conversation, with loved ones at the dinner table that night. Despite a few bumps in the road, due to conflicts with one family member, things went memorably well. I say it is possible to give such thanks observed on Thanksgiving on any other day, just as it is over the traditional turkey and stuffing. That year, despite a few obstacles, I know I rejoiced in giving thanks for all the potentials developing in my life, a lot due in part to the support of the family I was sitting down to dinner with. I know that this year, in much better shape, mentally and physically, as well as socially and academically, there will be no qualms in my shouting the unforeseen degree of thankfulness I have for all the people I’ve reconnected with, and met, as well as all the things I’ve accomplished and learned since that Thanksgiving of 2005; football or no football.